The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office has instituted a policy that will require personnel to keep track of drugs collected from death scenes.
The policy was implemented within the past month and more than six months after Baton Rouge police found such drugs inside the home of Coroner’s Office employee Raymond Levie, who was shot to death June 24 at a restaurant.
The finding “pointed out that we did not have a complete picture of what was happening to the drugs we collect,” East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Shannon Cooper said.
The policy, which is not written, will track the drugs from collection to disposal, he said, adding that the effort would, hopefully, keep prescription medication out of the wrong hands.
Such a policy would have been instituted earlier, Cooper added, had he known about the drugs police discovered at Levie’s home.
Cooper said he didn’t find out about the drugs until after Levie, 51, who was an investigator with the Coroner’s Office, was fatally shot in the dining room of TJ Ribs on Acadian Thruway.
Levie’s attacker, Shawn Jones, 27, shot and killed himself. Jones was the brother of Candace Jones, the 21-year-old woman Levie was dating and living with at the time of his death.
Police searched the couple’s home on Dec. 30 after receiving a complaint about Levie abusing the young woman, a search warrant affidavit says.
Investigators going through the two-story apartment at 1670 Brightside Lane found nine prescription pill bottles, six of which did not belong to Levie or Jones, police reports show.
Three of the bottles belonged to people whose deaths the Coroner’s Office investigated in 2007 and 2009, the reports say.
The names on two of the other bottles had been removed, the reports say. The remaining bottle belonged to Levie’s daughter.
All of the bottles — two of which were found in body bags in Levie’s attic — contained medication, the reports show.
One of the bottles held narcotic pain relievers, the reports say. Another bottle held antibiotics and the rest of the bottles contained medication to treat high blood pressure, depression and anxiety.
In addition to the drugs, the reports say police found 46 driver’s licenses and identification cards. The items were stored in a cardboard box in Levie’s dining room closet.
Thirty-one of the licenses and identification cards belonged to people whose deaths the Coroner’s Office investigated between 2005 and 2010, the reports say. Levie looked into six of the deaths, two of which were homicides.
Police did not determine whether the remaining licenses and identification cards belonged to people who are deceased or still living.
Cooper said his investigators sometimes remove medication and identification from death scenes. He said, however, those instances are rare and the items should not end up in the homes of his investigators.
Drugs taken from death scenes should be brought to the Corner’s Office and stored in a locked room until an investigation is closed, Cooper said. The drugs should then be destroyed as medical waste.
Driver’s licenses taken from death scenes should be returned to the state Office of Motor Vehicles, said Don Moreau, chief of operations for the Coroner’s Office. One of Levie’s duties was to gather the licenses and deliver them to the state agency.
At the time of Levie’s death, police were looking into whether the death investigator was breaking any laws by possessing the drugs police found at his home, police spokesman Sgt. Donald Stone said.
Prior to Levie’s death, police closed their investigation into allegations that he abused his girlfriend, Stone said. The allegations made by Candace Jones’ mother, Renee Jones, could not be substantiated.
Police are still looking into the motive for Levie’s death, Stone said.
The State Inspector General’s Office aided police in their investigation into the allegations made against Levie, police reports say.
The office, which looks into allegations of wrongdoing involving state and local government agencies, is continuing its investigation into the matter, agency spokesman Greg Phares said.